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School Lab

During Covid: Volunteering in a school lab for pupils- without pupils

Jakob Voß, FJN volunteer in the student lab 2020/21 reports:

Originally, I wanted to work in a bar or in a ski resort in Canada after my Abitur in the summer of 2020. But it quickly became clear that a work&travel year in the year of Covid was not a good idea. So I changed my mind and decided to do a volunteer year in Germany. Since I have always been rather interested in technology, I discovered that the Schülerlabor at HZB offers a Voluntary Social Year in Science, Technology and Sustainability.  After a friendly short interview, it was clear to me: this is where I want to do my voluntary service - luckily it worked out.

But what exactly do you do in the student lab?

Well, the main task is actually the supervision of various project days (such as a solar or material day) together with groups of students, so I was told. But now I've been working at HZB for about three months and unfortunately I haven't had a group of students visit yet.

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mousetrap car

Experiments to try out

So am I just lying on my lazy skin all the time? It's not quite that bad! There is also plenty to do in a student lab when there are no students around. We use the time to revise our project days or even develop new project ideas. Because of the great equipment in the lab, there are lots of opportunities for new ideas and experiments - trying out new experiments for the students is what I enjoy the most.

For example, using only a plastic bottle, a spigot, a hose, a handkerchief and some water, we built a device that shows how harmful smoking and air pollution are to our lungs. Also a small "car" has been created, which is powered by only a mousetrap.

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self-built lava lamp

the workshops are now online

A highlight of the week is the workshop. There I can try out many things with three interested pupils and support them with various programming tasks. Of course it was cooler when we could meet in person, but it's also diverse and interesting online. And also challenging, because there are always technical problems.

We did a lot of small experiments together, which are easy to do at home. For example, we made our own lava lamp from oil, water and an effervescent tablet. We also started programming with Python. Since I have never worked with Python before, it was also an exciting new experience for me. At the same time, I was able to take an online course in programming to continue learning myself and to stay up to date. In the workshop we are currently programming our own little fantasy chess - that does sound pretty good ;).

All in all, I am very happy to do my voluntary year at the HZB. I have been welcomed here in a very friendly way and I am very well taken care of. I have a lot of possibilities to try out physics experiments and to develop my own ideas. Of course, I'm looking forward to when we can finally welcome groups of students to the lab again, but until then we'll make the best of it.


please send your application directly to ijgd (Internationaler Jugendgemeinschaftsdienst).

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